Seeking recipe for spiced oil used in butternut squash soup
October 25, 2021 6:51 AM   Subscribe

A local restaurant serves an awesome bowl of butternut squash soup. It's very flavorful. They drizzle it with some kind of spiced oil.

I'd like to make a soup that's similar to the one the restaurant serves. Recipes for butternut squash soup are a dime a dozen, but I can't find a spiced oil recipe that seems like it would work well with the soup. My cooking skills are average at best, and my palate is not sophisticated enough for me to determine what spices the restaurant uses in the oil. I think there is some cayenne pepper in it, because it has a bit of a kick, but the other flavors are a mystery to me. Just looking for something that might plausibly work well for this purpose.
posted by akk2014 to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm seeing suggestions of truffle oil.
posted by beagle at 7:02 AM on October 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

It might be a fancy olive oil which has an interesting peppery kick. What color is the oil?

If you live in a bigger city there might be an olive oil shop where you could try a few different oils and figure out if that's the correct flavor.
posted by gregr at 7:03 AM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It's hard to say for sure, but I think the oil is a darker brown than regular olive oil.
posted by akk2014 at 7:06 AM on October 25, 2021

Best answer: You might try out some tadkas to see if they give you what you're looking for. If the oil is brownish-red and spicy then likely it is made with this sort of technique where spices (whole, ground, or a mix) are toasted in hot oil. Normally in Indian food the spices would be included with the oil but you can also strain them out.

If I were doing a tadka for a butternut squash soup, I might try ginger, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, cayenne, and bay leaves.
posted by goingonit at 7:11 AM on October 25, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: I make this chile-infused oil from Ottolenghi's Plenty More, which is drizzled on top of a red lentil soup. It adds a really nice smoky sweet hit to a savory soup, as well as making the soup look pretty:

3/4 cup sunflower oil
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 red chile, coarsely chopped
1/2 star anise pod
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tomato paste
zest of 1/2 lemon

Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and add shallot, garlic, ginger, chile, star anise, and curry powder. Fry over low heat for 5 minutes until shallot is soft. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining oil and lemon zest and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Cool and strain through cheesecloth.

I make a small batch of this to put into a cheap squeeze bottle. Warm up your soup then squeeze drops on top just before serving. Recipe calls for 1/2 tsp but I just put in enough "beads" to make the soup look professional, which seems to add the right amount of kick. You can always add more.

(One more note: This oil is also perfect for finishing stir-fries, which is another reason to make enough for a few meals.)
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:32 AM on October 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

Is it possible that it's browned butter that they drizzle on it? That would be delicious. It would have a nutty flavor.
posted by hydra77 at 8:19 AM on October 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also, what type of restaurant is this/what sort of cuisine do they have? Is it possible that the menu hints to 'finished with ...'?

And it's possible that they'll give you the answer if you give them a call and just ask what sort of oil they use to finish their butternut squash soup.
posted by hydra77 at 8:21 AM on October 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

I drizzle chili crisp oil (usually the Trader Joe's brand) on my butternut squash soup (I am not a restauranteur, I am definitely not *your* restauranteur).
posted by mskyle at 8:37 AM on October 25, 2021

Best answer: Wondering if it might be 5 spice chili oil. It has warm spices that would go well with butternut squash soup.

In a heat proof bowl, combine

2 tbsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbspfennel seeds
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (or black peppercorns)
1 tsp cloves
4 star anise
1 tbsp ground ginger

Heat 1/2 cup neutral oil (sunflower or canola) until a dipped chopstick has bubbles coming up from it, around 350⁰. Pour over spices and let sit until cooled. Use at once or transfer oil and spices to a jar and let sit overnight for better flavor. Keeps for at least 2 months.

I've also had a chili/tahini oil on that soup that was phenomenal.
posted by ananci at 8:52 AM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Poblano and Chipotle Chili both have a smoky finish that goes really well with butternut squash. Costenza brand makes a Chipotle pepper paste that is especially dense and oily. Poblano is a little milder and is great stuffed with squash or relleno.

If you roast the squash before you make it into a soup, the flavor is intensified. A little bit of very good Cheddar cheese is a great addition.
posted by effluvia at 9:34 AM on October 25, 2021

I have an oil-based harissa paste in a tube, and I'm sure it would work in a thinner format. Harissa oil recipe.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 2:18 PM on October 25, 2021

Can you just ask them?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ask them!
posted by at 7:25 PM on October 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

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